No power to light switch?

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  #1  
Old 12-19-06, 11:50 AM
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No power to light switch?

Hey everyone,

During this last summer, I was helping remodel a bedroom. Part of it involvled installing new electrical outlets. A few hours later after this was completed, the kitchen light in this house went out (next to the bedroom). I changed the light bulb...nothing. Replaced the switch, same thing. Finally, we bought a new fixture, and still nothing. Now it's six months later and since I'm back, I've decided to take a look at it again. I took a multimeter at the light switch in the kitchen to the two wires. It was 0 at both on and off (when put to a working light, it read 125). I had also crawled into the attic to trace the wiring. I found that it goes from the breaker to the kitchen to that bedroom. The rest of the kitchen's electrical components still work, and everything in the bedroom works. The breaker is no more than five feet away from the light switch (The switch is next to the garage door, and right inside the garage is the breaker). Any ideas?

Danny
 
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  #2  
Old 12-19-06, 12:45 PM
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If the bedroom is on the same circuit then I suspect one of your connections is loose.
 
  #3  
Old 12-19-06, 01:10 PM
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If you only have two wires at the light switch then measuring between them for voltage is not going to tell you anything. You should get 0 volts between them.

If you measure between either wires and good ground or a neutral wire (if there is on present) then you should get proper voltage.
 
  #4  
Old 12-19-06, 03:04 PM
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You mentioned bathrooms? Look for a tripped GFCI?
 
  #5  
Old 12-19-06, 03:23 PM
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So are we to assume that you came from that kitchen switch to the bedroom? If so you will need to install an arc fault breaker (more on that later) Are you sure the plugs in the bedroom work? How are you testing them? It sounds like you either have a brokn neutral or you are missing a hot in the joint one way or the other. Is this a switch loop? (that means that the hot wires go to the light first then down to the switch) only ideas i can give you from what i know right now is to go back and check all devices. Chances are a wire was left out of a joint or plug due to it being thought hot.

Tell us how you ran the new or extended ckt. If the light went out hours after you finished wiring then chances are you lossened something and it arced out clearing itself.this will probably be in the light
 

Last edited by Sthrnamp; 12-19-06 at 03:25 PM. Reason: re-read...
  #6  
Old 12-19-06, 04:05 PM
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racraft - As i mentioned before, when i measured between them on another working room, it read 125. And that was reading between the two wires. It may be possible that the lead was touching a screw which then acted as the ground, because I did get the reading with the switch off. That would make sense. But yes, doing the same on the kitchen showed nothing.

Sthrnamp - Yes, it goes from the kitchen to the bedroom. The bedroom is being used right now, and anything plugged into the outlets work great (TV, lamps, clocks...). The wiring in this house is old. And actually, the now that I think of it, the outlets were originally two-pronged. This may be the problem, but will installing an arc fault breaker fix it (or will i have to take out all the outlets and put the two-prong back in)?

All I know about the switch is that there are only two wires there, so I would assume that it wasn't a switch loop. Also, when I was in the attic, I noticed that the wires would run from the switch to the light, but then if I remember right (I may have to go check again), the wires continued from the light over to the other room. Or it could have been from the switch over to the other room. Looks like I'll have to take another look when I have time.
 
  #7  
Old 12-19-06, 05:29 PM
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I'm assuming that you have run 14/2/wg all the way back to the panel? If this is the case then the three prong receps are correct. If you have no ground attached then you need to go back to the two prong receps. The arc fault is to comply with new NEC codes any bedroom must be on an arc fault breaker. If the wires in the attic run from the light box to the bedroom then you have a switch loop and the joint in the light box is messed up. If the wires come from the switch box then the joint in the switch is suspect. I will tell you that it sounds like you are missing a hot. Do you have a voltmeter? If so check the voltage on your receps in the bedroom. (the one you just wired) check b/w hot and neutral and hot and ground and neutral and ground. What racraft was sayoing is that if you are just testing b/w the two screws on a switch you will not get a reading even if it is on or off. you need to go b/w one and another be it hot/ground. or other wise.
 
  #8  
Old 12-19-06, 07:30 PM
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Two wires to a switch and none others present means a switch loop. This means no neutral. Measuring with the switch off will yield 120 volts if there is a load and if you can read through the load. If the switch controls a receptacle and nothing is plugged in then you won;t read anything across the switch. Bottom line, don't take readings on a switch lop. They prove nothing.

Check the wiring at the light. You have an open somewhere. It could be at a working place on the circuit or a non-working one.

Technically you should be completely rewiring and installing an arc-fault breaker if you are extensively remodeling. If all you are doing is painting then it is not considered extensive.

Do NOT install three prong receptacles on an ungrounded circuit. if you did, remove them, or at the very least provide GFCI protection.
 
  #9  
Old 12-20-06, 11:19 AM
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Thanks for the help everyone. Well, I've done some checking. In the attic, above the kitchen light looks like it may be a switch loop. One cable goes to the light switch. Another goes to a light above the kitchen sink which I just found out was there. Apparently it hasn't worked in 10 years. The last cable appeared that it goes to the bedroom, but the stove light is against the wall of the bedroom. I guess it could possibly go to that. But the two rooms are on the same circuit breaker. I'm guessing most of the wiring was through the walls because there wasn't much in the attic.

I also took a look at the outlets in the bedroom. They had 4 wires, but no ground. The new outlets have a screw to be grounded, but I assume there was no ground on this originally. I checked the voltages too. Between the hot and neutral is 126, but between hot and ground, and neutral and ground were both 0. I checked this with the bathroom (the bathroom has GFCI and a ground wire). This time, it was 126 and decimals rather than 0.

But here is the fun part. The third outlet in the room, which is on the wall bordering the kitchen, was registering 127 volts between hot and neutral, but this was strange. It was read 127 votls between hot and ground! Curious, I removed the cover to see what was going on underneath. There was nothing to the ground wire, but I noticed there were 6 wires total rather than 4...an extra on each side, which were just doubled up with another (I remeber it was like this on the old two-prong, so when I switched over, I kept it the same).

Now I know this next part was very stupid of me, but (wearing rubber gloves) I pulled the outlet out a little so I could see back. Next thing that happened was a flash with some sparks. I know I should hit the breaker before I messed with it, but I'm glad that it happened. The light that hadn't worked for 10 years is now working, and the kitchen light works!

The voltage on that outlet is 126, but between the hot and the ground reads 0. But now I am afraid to put the put the wall outlet back into position, I'm afraid something might happen (either more flashes or the lights will stop again). I know I should switch that to a GFCI to be safe, but I don't understand why there is 6 wires.

What would you recommend?
 
  #10  
Old 12-20-06, 12:30 PM
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Ok, for now, I hit the breaker this time and I screwed the outlet back in. The lights all still work, but the voltage between the hot and the ground went back to 127. I have a feeling that the light may have went out the first time because we plugged something in. I won't plug anything in it right now, but If anyone has any ideas on what to do (or why there is 6 wires there), I would appreciate it!

Thanks!
 
  #11  
Old 12-20-06, 02:52 PM
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Six wires can mean any number of things.

If you mean no grounds it could be as follows:

Power coming in; power going out; a switch loop.

Or it could mean:

Power coming in; power going out; power going out.


I will say it again:

If these three prong receptacles, replace them ASAP. Either install two prong receptacles or install GFCI protection.
 
  #12  
Old 12-20-06, 06:30 PM
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Thanks. One last question. To install GFCI, does a ground wire need to be connected to it? Or can I just wire those 6 wires up to it like it is?
 
  #13  
Old 12-20-06, 06:37 PM
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A GFCI does not require a ground to operate properly. If it did, it would not be code legal to install one where no ground exists.

A GFCI does not allow for splitting, so if you have a duplex receptacle that is half switched, you have to make a choice. The GFCI can be always on or switched.
 
  #14  
Old 12-20-06, 08:14 PM
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The outlet is always hot (unless breaker switch is off of course), so I shouldn't have a problem. If I assume correctly, if the GFCI works as it should in the case of an accident, it would kill the power to the kitchen light wouldn't it (since the kitchen and the bedroom are all on the same circuit)?

Just out of curiousity, if one were to install three-prong outlets in place of two-pronged, could a ground wire (if possible without tearing up the walls) be ran from the outlets to the circuit breaker (or some other earthed ground)?
 
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